2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/3/2017 10:49 PM

WW South plays big against Metea Valley

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By Matt Le Cren
Daily Herald Correspondent

Wheaton Warrenville South junior center Jayla Johnson stands only 5-foot-8.

That figured to be a problem Tuesday night against Metea Valley, which started two 6-footers in Ashley Konkle and Skye Lane and brought another, Bri Hall, off the bench.

It was a mismatch, but not the kind everyone expected.

Johnson scored 11 of her game-high 13 points in the first half and added 6 steals, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a block as the Tigers routed host Metea 59-22 in Aurora.

WW South (10-7, 5-2 DuPage Valley Conference) opened the game with a 12-0 run and Johnson tallied 7 points in the first quarter. The Mustangs (6-10, 2-4) missed their first seven shots before Janiece Thomas sank a baseline jumper at the buzzer to make it 14-3.

That was Thomas' only basket of the game and Metea's lone basket of the first half.

"We just knew that we had to play our game and make smart passes, especially going inside because they are so much bigger than us," Johnson said. "So we just worked the ball around to get open looks."

Indeed, the Tigers were as patient as the Mustangs were frantic, and it paid off with smart shots. WW South shot 18 for 39 and turned the ball over only 10 times.

Metea, meanwhile, continued to be plagued with turnovers. The Tigers forced 34 turnovers, 25 of which came off steals. Johnson and forward Sarah Struebing each had 6 steals, while Mackenzie Stebbins had 4 and Mira Emma and Jayne LaBelle had 3 apiece.

"We were trying to put more pressure on them in our 1-2-2 instead of just letting them look around up top," Struebing said. "So I think that's how we stopped a lot of inside passes and took away the middle."

WW South coach Rob Kroehnke, whose team went 1-3 at the State Farm Classic last week in Bloomington, said the game resembled the Tigers' 51-39 win over Geneseo.

"This is why we go down there, to learn how to play against different types of teams, whether it's pressure or size," Kroehnke said. "This was very similar to Geneseo and how we took away the inside in the first half.

"Our defense was fantastic. We got deflections, we got steals and we turned it into our offense. And we shot the ball well."

Struebing, Stebbins, LaBelle and reserve Alexa Horvatin, who went 3 for 3, all scored 8 points for the Tigers.

In contrast, reserve Tess Thompson led the Mustangs with 6 points. No other player had more than one basket, including Konkle, who was held to 3 points, though she did have a game-high 7 rebounds.

"That was the worst game we've played this season," Metea coach Cedric Williams said. "But as I told them in the locker room, we've just got to keep fighting. We're going to have ups and downs, but we've just got to continue to get better."

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